Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Veggie Patch

Last year, I shared many a blog about my adventures in my veggie patch. I wrote about how to make a garden from a lawn, how to add leaves and grass clippings into the soil, how to make raised beds and how to harvest the yummy vegetables. Since I don’t like repeating myself, too often, I thought that I’d just share some of the highlights from this year’s garden…


In the early spring, my first chore was to expand the length of my garden – you can see that I’m building it into a long snake-like shape. I turned the soil over and buried all the composting plants from last year’s garden. I thought I’d try to grow some onions and I learned that they need to be planted very early and you can see that I created a raised bed for them.

The rest of the garden that is visible in this photo has been covered with the compost that I made from last year’s table scraps and yard waste. It looks like it is also covered in snow, but what you are seeing is a layer of crushed eggshells. Whenever I cook or bake using eggs, I put the empty shells into a container to dry and then I use a potato masher to crush them into tiny bits, before I sprinkle them onto my garden.

In the eggshell area you can see very small plants growing. Let’s take a closer look…


The entire area that I covered with compost started filling in with many of these small plants. That’s the benefit of putting compost into your garden – free food! You just don’t know what you’re going to get, though!!!


Many free plants started growing in this area and I built mini ‘volcanoes’ around each plant so that they would have more water to drink to grow. I was thinking that these plants could be pumpkin, acorn squash, butternut squash, zucchini, watermelon or cantaloupe. I also knew that the plants would take up a lot of space and that I would soon be choosing which three plants I would let continue to grow in this area. For now, I encouraged each plant to grow until I could determine the shape of the plants leaves – which would tell me how many different species of plants I had growing.

After a few more weeks I noted that I had three species and so I chose the healthiest of each species to continue to grow. At this point, I still had no idea what I was growing!


After the volcanoes were built, I covered the entire area with leaf mulch. In the autumn, instead of bagging my leaves, setting them on the curb and leaving them for someone else to deal with, I keep them, shred them and add their nutrients to all my gardens.


Then it was time to get the rest of the veggie patch ready. Before I could plant my tomatoes and beans, I first had to have my spring fire in the metal tirewall you see here. During the year, I collect all the twigs and branches that fall from my trees and every spring and fall I burn them in my garden. After the fire is reduced to glowing embers I rake them over my garden. The hot embers burn any weeds growing in the top layer of soil and the ash from the fire adds nitrogen to the soil.

Since my lawn grows so quickly in the spring, I also add these clipping to my garden, on top of the leaf mulch. The grass and the leaves will compost adding more nutrients to the soil and while they are composting they are also keeping the soil moist.

Hmmmmm…. all the photos in this story are filled with different shades of brown – a little boring. To brighten things up a bit, here are a few photos of the spring flowers that bloomed at the one end of this garden…


This is one of the tulips that bloomed. In the background you can see the colours of the blue forget-me-nots and a yellow daffodil.


Here are some allums just bursting to bloom.


Almost in full bloom.


In full bloom.


And now seeding after its bloom.

There – a splash of colour! Now back to the dirt…


… which can’t be seen anymore, cuz the entire area is filled with vegetable plants!!!!

The unknown plants, which grew from my compost, have taken over my entire garden! They’ve grown up into my juniper bush. They’ve grown all the way to my back hedge. They’ve taken over my back lawn. Yikes!!! Just three plants. Could you imagine what would have happened if I had let all the free plants grow?!!

Those of you with keen eyes have probably already realized that one to the three plant species is…


… a pumpkin plant!

Another of the three plants turned out to also be a pumpkin plant – a different kind of pumpkin plant tho’. The final plant grew up to be an acorn squash and in another week or so I’ll be harvesting these.

Having a garden and being able to provide at least some of the food that ends up on your dinner plate is very important – in my eyes – for creating a future for the world. What better way is there to establish a bond between yourself and our planet than by touching the Earth and tending to her flowers and vegetables? Think of all the chemicals that were not produced in factories because your garden didn’t consume any. Think of all the fuel that was not used in transporting food to your table. Think of the health of the food that you grow, realizing it is fresher than any other product you can find in the stores – tomatoes were not picked while they were green, to turn red during the transportation to your local store. The list of benefits goes on and on…

I hope that you have enjoyed watching my garden evolve through the last few seasons and I hope that I’ve inspired all of you to consider doing a little growing of your own!

Jim

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